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Stobart, K. (2020). Countertransference and alive moments: by R. D. Hinshelwood, London, Process Press, 2016, 239 pp., £19-95 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-899209-17-0. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(1):221-224.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(1):221-224

Countertransference and alive moments: by R. D. Hinshelwood, London, Process Press, 2016, 239 pp., £19-95 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-899209-17-0

Review by:
Karen Stobart

Professor Hinshelwood writes that he encountered psychoanalysis not long after Paula Heimann’s seminal papers of 1950 and 1960 (xii) when the concept of countertransference came to be seen as something that might be helpful to the analysis and not simply a distraction or confusion. Thus he can consider himself as having been part of the “rehabilitation” of the concept almost since its beginning. A sentence in the Preface describes how his recognition of the usefulness of countertransference as a clinical tool parallels that of his profession. “It has taken me until I have reached touching distance from the end of my career to be able to systematize my thoughts and to write this account” (xii). In reading this book, the reviewer gained the impression that Hinshelwood is describing his own quite original attempt among British analysts to reach a view of countertransference which synthesizes an object relations perspective, which tends to view it more as the result of the patient’s projection, and the relational one, which inclines rather towards seeing the subjective contribution of the analyst.

Countertransference and Alive Moments. Help or Hindrance” could also be read as an account of how countertransference has influenced the development of the psychoanalytic identity: “The analyst’s understanding of the material is indelibly shaped by an understanding of himself” (160). Hinshelwood continues: “The person of the analyst, and his anxieties, is the point. The notion of countertransference embodies the reality that the ego of the analyst struggles too” (xiii). He defines countertransference as an “attention to process” (135) and sensitively conveys his understanding of the analyst’s sense of exposure whilst involved in the process. He illustrates this through his own clinical material and that of others.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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